Need winter solstice children’s activities or want to learn what is winter solstice, what is winter solstice celebration, and what are winter solstice traditions for the shortest day of the year? Celebrate winter solstice ideas with winter theme lessons and solstice activities for kids — great for winter solstice activities for the classroom, homeschooling teaching resources to teach kids about the winter solstice, or family fun at home!
33+ Winter Solstice Children’s Activities
Looking for winter solstice activities for kids? Here are some ideas and winter solstice activities for your winter solstice celebration, winter solstice theme lessons / winter solstice lesson plans, winter crafts for classroom, and fun winter solstice for kids activities!
Here’s how to create a fun day with yule crafts and other things to do on winter solstice…
What can kids do on the winter solstice?
What do you do on the winter solstice:
- Light candles or an advent spiral (such a beautiful, calming solstice activity!) and live by candlelight or fire for the day
- Read poems for winter solstice.
- Make and share a family meal / winter solstice feast, especially made with recipes passed down from ancestors.
- Decorate with natural decorations like pine needles, winter berries, and pine cones.
- Make sun bread or bake a winter and nut bread.
- Read books about winter solstice. (See our recommendations!)
- Make a winter solstice soup.
- Share stories passed down from ancestors.
- Make your own sundial.
- Have everyone tell what they appreciate about nature.
- Dip beeswax candles and then use them for solstice ceremony ideas
- Play outdoor solstice games.
- Make winter solstice lanterns and use those instead of electricity lights for the day.
- Have a bonfire or burn a Yule log in the fireplace and enjoy homemade hot chocolate.
- Take a nature hike.
- Make ice lanterns.
- Dry oranges for Yule. (Make pomander balls / dried orange pomanders.)
- Pray for health in the new year.
- Exchange small handmade gifts.
- Make special warm drinks if you need winter solstice activities for adults.
See full list of winter solstice rituals and winter solstice ideas for kids and family below! KEEP SCROLLING for more ideas and activities for winter solstice for kids and solstice celebration ideas!
Now that you have some solstice ideas (get more how to celebrate the winter solstice with children below!), let’s cover how do you explain solstice to a child…
What is winter solstice explained for kids?
What happens during winter solstice?
Winter solstice, also called midwinter, occurs when the North Pole is at the maximum tilt away from the sun, which makes days shorter and temperatures colder. Once the winter solstice occurs, days gradually start to get longer again and nights start to get shorter. The winter solstice marks the longest and darkest day of the year and is also referred to as Dark Day.
After winter solstice, traditionally people start to celebrate return of light and return of the sun.
While the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing winter solstice, there is no winter solstice in the southern hemisphere at the same time.
The Southern Hemisphere is experiencing summer solstice—the longest period of daylight in the year.
Winter solstice is often said to be the first day of winter or the beginning of winter, even if temperatures have already been cold and wintery.
However, because the date varies, winter solstice and the first day of winter may occur on different dates.
Don’t forget to add the science of what happens during the winter solstice in explaining solstice to kids!
Winter solstice is also called: Midwinter, Yule, the Longest Night, Jol, Hiemal Solstice, Hibernal Solstice
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Learning the Art of Cloth Wrapping (perfect for solstice gift-giving!)
Is winter solstice the shortest day of the year?
Yes, winter solstice is the shortest day of the year (longest night of the year), or the day with the least amount of daylight all year long. Many people celebrate solstice by spending time outside during those brief day light hours.
How long does winter solstice last?
Winter solstice lasts less than 12 hours of daytime each year! That means you will have more dark hours than light hours.
The exact time of the winter solstice varies each year.
When does winter solstice end?
Winter solstice is only one day. In 2022, solstice will end after December 21st.
Winter solstice: how to celebrate?
If you want to know how to celebrate winter solstice with your family, focus on spending quality family time together during these short days (especially on the day of the winter solstice!).
When winter solstice arrives, be prepared with some solstice activities for the whole family!
(See our full list of what do you do on the winter solstice below and winter activities!)
What are some popular traditions associated with winter solstice?
Historically, events like solstices were used by people to mark different time periods like:
- Planting of crops
- Monitoring food reserves for the winter (or, the “famine months”) to avoid starvation
- Actions of animals (like mating seasons) and butchering seasons
What is the winter solstice and when does it occur?
When Is Winter Solstice?
What date is winter solstice 2022::
If you’re wondering when does winter solstice start, the winter solstice date occurs around December 21st each year. Winter Solstice 2022 is Wednesday December 21, 2022 at 4:47 p.m. EST.
AFTER WINTER SOLSTICE, CHECK OUT THESE RELATED LESSONS:
How long is the winter solstice?
So, how long is the shortest day of the year? The winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is less than 12 hours of day time. In 2022, winter solstice will last just short of 9 hours.
How much longer do days get after the winter solstice?
The days gradually start to get longer after winter solstice, all the way to summer solstice, or when the longest day of the year occurs after winter months.
Winter Solstice Origin and Who celebrates Winter Solstice?
What is winter solstice celebration?
Many different cultures celebrate winter solstice. Because the days start to get longer after winter solstice, it is often celebrated as a time of rebirth and many cultures and belief systems spend time celebrating winter solstice.
Winter Solstice Origin
Winter solstice is believed to have originated as far back as the last part of the Stone Age, based on the stone monuments that (especially in Ireland and Scotland) that align with the sun during the winter solstice.
Is winter solstice Christmas?
In Scandinavia, Yule (sometimes called Christmas) is celebrated from the winter solstice through January. However, in other cultures, winter solstice and Christmas are two distinct celebrations.
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Is winter solstice a pagan holiday?
Winter solstice was seen for some as a pagan holiday, including different rituals honoring nature. For others, it was a time to prepare for winter. Today, many different people from many different backgrounds and religious beliefs celebrate winter solstice for different reasons.
What religion celebrates winter solstice?
Winter solstice is often called a pagan celebration, but it is celebrated and honored by many different people with many different belief systems.
Early on, because following changing seasons was such an important part of survival, some cultures worshipped gods (like the sun).
The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons.
It was from the word for this wheel, houl, that the word yule is thought to have come.
At mid-winter the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale.
Winter Solstice Traditions Around the World (Rituals for Winter Solstice)
This time of year is a great time to learn about winter solstice rituals around the world and learn about ancient solstice sites!
When trying to understand what is winter solstice, you have to look at the traditions and winter solstice rituals and how others honor the winter solstice holiday.
A winter solstice celebration and rituals for winter solstice vary based on different cultures.
Here are some examples of winter solstice traditions around the world, winter solstice practices, and how to honor winter solstice.
Maybe you can use some of these for your winter celebration ideas and yule party ideas!
Winter Solstice in Australia
Winter solstice in Australia is actually on June 21, 2022, at 7:13 p.m.
Remember, the Southern hemisphere winter solstice is at a different time of year than the winter solstice Northern Hemisphere!
Australians celebrate winter solstice by:
- Burning a yule log in the hearth and keeping part of the ashes to use in next year’s solstice fire
- Enjoy food and drinks with friends and family
- Taking advantage of the shortest day of light by spending as much time outside as possible hiking and enjoying nature
- Giving back to nature
The winter solstice traditions southern hemisphere are very similar to the Northern hemisphere, just celebrated at a different time!
Winter Solstice in Japan
In Japan, winter solstice is called tōji and celebrates harmony and balance.
During winter solstice in Japan, it is tradition to:
- Take a hot bath with yuzu, a citrus fruit used for its cleansing and healing.
- Eat kabocha squash and “auspicious” vegetables, or those thought to bring success.
- Go to a winter solstice festival like Toji Matsuri or Tojisai, where there is a bonfire and individuals pray for the cleansing of their soul and health in the upcoming year.
Winter Solstice Traditions in England
You may have already heard about the traditions in England, because Winter Solstice at Stonehenge is known worldwide.
Many people gather at Stonehenge “the day after the longest night” (or the day after solstice) at dawn to watch the sun rising through the stones.
Although we’re not sure exactly why Stonehenge was built, some research suggests that winter solstice festivals occurred there.
Winter Solstice Traditions in China
China’s winter solstice tradition is thousands of years old. It marks the end of harvest season and centers around family gatherings.
During the gathering, traditional tang yuan, or rice balls, are eaten.
Just like Japan, the Chinese winter solstice also focuses on yin and yang, or balancing darkness and light.
Winter Solstice Traditions in Guatemala
In some parts of Guatemala, the winter solstice is a mix of Catholic traditions and Mayan rituals and last for the week leading up to winter solstice.
There are parades with brightly colored masks and costumes, as well as fireworks and music.
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Winter Solstice Traditions in Arizona
In Arizona, Indigenous Hopi celebrate winter solstice as part of kachina or katsina.
The Soyal ceremony is held to bring the sun back from its “winter slumber” using traditional, ritual dances, prayer sticks, and kachina dolls.
The ceremony also includes:
- Prayers for the upcoming year.
- Singing and dancing.
- Gifts for the children.
Many different winter solstice traditions were adapted and are used today for religious and secular Christmas traditions like the Christmas tree, wreath, and Yule log.
Let’s get to our list of winter solstice activities for preschool and up! Here’s how to celebrate winter solstice at home or for winter solstice in the classroom.
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Winter Solstice Activities and Solstice Lesson Plan Ideas
Your celebration of winter solstice can include learning about the science of solstice and other fun activities and winter solstice party ideas!
Solstice during winter is a great way to add fun winter lessons to your learning, for family celebrations lesson plans, and fun for changing seasons lesson plans!
Here’s a fun list of ideas for kids of all ages, from young kids to older children to even adult activity ideas!
Easy Winter Solstice Activities Kids Will Love
Creative Ideas to Celebrate the Winter Solstice:
- Do winter solstice crafts, like make a nature garland or dried fruit edible ornaments for animals.
- Go on a winter nature walk or spiral walk or solstice stroll and journal about your appreciation for nature.
- Do a winter nature scavenger hunt for a winter solstice game (or photo winter solstice images contest)
- Spread birdseed or make an easy DIY bird feeder in order to support the birds during winter.
- Watch a short video on how solstices work
- Make winter solstice crowns out of nature finds and tissue paper
- Understanding the science behind the solstices
- Paint some winter solstice art projects by candlelight
- Make a mini Stonehenge replica for STEM solstice projects
- Do “It’s Winter in the Northern Hemisphere!” lesson
- Get ideas for winter solstice learning
- Watch winter solstice STEM videos and do activities
- Grab some free winter solstice worksheets
- Write a winter solstice short story or winter solstice poem by candle light
- Make Wassail or a winter solstice tea recipe and enjoy winter solstice snacks by a solstice fire pit
- Make winter solstice soup as part of your winter solstice feast menu
- Make 3D snowflakes and hang them in your windows
- Make winter solstice lanterns (a favorite winter solstice activity for kids / easy winter solstice craft or any time during winter season!)
- Create snow lanterns for outdoor solstice celebrations
- Throw a Winter Solstice Party
- Set good intentions for the new year with this magic wish paper
What are your great ideas and fun ways to celebrate winter solstice with kids and ideas for what to do on winter solstice? Let us know and we’ll add it to the solstice activity list / winter solstice childrens activities!
Must-Read Children’s Books on Winter Solstice
Need winter solstice activities & books / picture book ideas?
Snuggle down, make homemade hot chocolate, and read books related to winter solstice for more winter solstice children’s activities:
Sun Bread children’s book
The Shortest Day children’s book
The Return of the Light
The Shortest Day: Celebrating The Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice
A Solstice Tree For Jenny
Hope you enjoyed learning what is winter solstice! If you have tips on how you celebrate solstice, leave them in the comments so we can add them to our list!